Ford: Battery Electric Vehicles, $900 Million Coming to Flat Rock Assembly

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford battery electric vehicles 900 million coming to flat rock assembly

The home of the Ford Mustang will eventually become home to vehicles built atop the automaker’s next-generation electric architecture, the company announced Wednesday. Ford’s plan comes with $900 million in previously announced funding, the vast majority of which is earmarked for the expansion of Michigan’s Flat Rock assembly plant. The rest of the cash goes towards preparations for the next-generation Mustang, which keeps Flat Rock as its home.

Contrary to previous claims, autonomous vehicles will not be among Flat Rock’s future inhabitants, and the same goes for Ford’s upcoming “Mustang inspired” EV crossover.

Once the plant completes its expansion and takes on a second shift, EV models (plural, take note) will pour forth, but not imminently. Ford targets the start of Flat Rock EV production for 2023.

Rather than Flat Rock, autonomous vehicle production will instead take place at “a new AV manufacturing center in southeast Michigan,” Ford stated, where workers will outfit “purpose-built, commercial-grade hybrid vehicles with self-driving technology and unique interiors.” AV production should commence at the unnamed locale in 2021.

Before any of that happens, of course, Ford’s electric performance crossover will roll out of Cuautitlan, Mexico in 2020, giving Blue Oval loyalists a taste of the electromobility Ford CEO Jim Hackett is so keen on.

“We’ve taken a fresh look at the growth rates of electrified vehicles and know we need to protect additional production capacity given our accelerated plans for fully electric vehicles,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, in a statement.

Some 900 additional jobs are expected to be created by the expansion. Ford also builds the Lincoln Continental at Flat Rock, and today’s announcement contained no mention of the vehicle, further pushing its future into doubt. With its platform mate, the Ford Fusion, kicking the dust by (or in) 2021, we continue to believe the big Lincoln sedan will bow out with it.

While electric vehicle sales rose sharply in the U.S. last year, mainly due to increased production of the Tesla Model 3, the vehicle type remains a tiny sliver of the country’s total sales volume — just over 1 percent. Numerous factors, including primitive public infrastructure, a culture rooted in go-anywhere ethos, and a tax credit limited to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, threatens its rate of growth.

Still, Ford, like rival General Motors, sees a future in EVs. As for AVs, Hinrichs showed tempered enthusiasm, mentioning that his company’s plan “allows us to adjust our investment spending to accommodate the pace of growth.”

One last announcement came today — that of the production site of the next-generation Transit Connect van. Currently built in Spain, production will shift to Hermosillo, Mexico in 2021, in keeping with the need to boost “U.S. and Canadian vehicle content consistent with the proposed USMCA trade agreement.”

[Image: Ford]

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8 of 17 comments
  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Mar 20, 2019

    Isn't Ford management under big pressure to push up profits? Aren't they cancelling lots of unprofitable cars and lots of expensive employees to boost profits? Isn't it strange that they don't seem to have noticed that no one is making money on EVs? I also haven't heard anyone making money on autonomous vehicles, so what kind of magic path is Ford following to bump up their stock price?

    • See 4 previous
    • JimZ JimZ on Mar 21, 2019

      @mcs Tesla turned a profit for one quarter. that's all the evidence you should need. /s

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 20, 2019

    Two completely random unrelated observations: - About 3.5 years elapsed from U.S. entry into WWII until VE Day - In 2019, Ford targets the *start* of Flat Rock EV production for 2023

  • ToolGuy VW (marque not group) and Tesla very nearly switched positions on a YTD basis.
  • RHD Inexpensive gasoline appears to be a thing of the past. ILO is correct - we have enough sunlight, wind and emerging ocean wave energy to power the entire country and then some. Clean air is nice, and being free of the whims of OPEC, geopolitics and hugely profitable oil companies will do all of us a world of good.
  • Raymond Segura Can you tell me where I can get the rear bumper for 69 impala?
  • Art Vandelay some of the crazy numbers I get. Percentages look bigger with any fluctuations with low volume makes and brands leaving the market will see massive month over month changes. But what’s with Buick? I still see the occasional ad on TV and yet the drop is disproportionate even compared to all the other GM brands.
  • Master Baiter "There is no mandate for consumers to buy EVs, not in any country or state. That’s made up."Right. And you are not mandated to purchase a toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons/flush. You could choose to not have a toilet--just go in the woods, like the bears do.